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14 brilliant moments from Wimbledon over the past nine decades

The Beeb is celebrating nine decades of broadcasting from the Wimbledon Championships — here’s a look back

By Kate Whiting

However old you are - and whether or not you bagged tickets in the ballot - the Wimbledon fortnight is one of the highlights of the summer, packed with action, emotion and, of course, strawberries and cream.

While the championships celebrates 140 years this year, it's only been for the last 90 that we've all been able to share in the excitement - thanks to the BBC, which broadcast its first ever radio commentary by Captain Henry Blythe Thornhill (Teddy) Wakelam from Centre Court on June 29, 1927.

Ten years later, Teddy was still commentating when the new BBC Television Service beamed its first match, Bunny Austin vs George Rogers, live into people's homes. And in 1967, BBC Two, under controller David Attenborough, went one step further and started showing matches in colour.

Here are some highlights from the 1920s to today.


1. The women's game was dominated throughout the Twenties by the French player Suzanne Rachel Flore Lenglen, who won 31 Championship titles between 1914 and 1926. Here she is in action at the final of the ladies' doubles, in 1920, partnered with American Elizabeth Ryan.


2. Before Andy Murray's victory against Novak Djokovic in 2013, Fred Perry was the last British man to win the men's singles title in 1936. It was his third consecutive Wimbledon Championships win in a row, during which time he was the world amateur number one. Here he is (above) beating Australia's Adrian Quist to take his first Wimbledon title in the Men's Singles final in 1934.


3. Besides the tennis, Wimbledon has also always been about fashion - and one of the first major controversies came in 1949, when American Gertrude (Gorgeous Gussie) Moran wore a short skirt and lace-trimmed panties designed by Teddy Tinling in her match against Britain's Betty Wilford.


4. In 1957, Queen Elizabeth II paid her first visit to Wimbledon as Queen, with the Duchess of Kent (with hand to face), where they watched American player Althea Gibson beat fellow American Darlene Hard in the ladies' singles final.


5. Two British women - Christine Truman and Angela Mortimer - competed for the ladies' singles title in 1961. Beaten but smiling, Christine puts a friendly arm around Angela, who became the first British winner of the title since 1937.


6. Widely regarded as one of the best players ever, Billie Jean King dominated the women's game from the mid-Sixties to mid-Seventies, winning an incredible 39 Grand Slam titles. At Wimbledon alone, she won six singles, 10 ladies' doubles and four mixed doubles titles.

Billie Jean won a hat-trick of trophies in 1973, including her singles title.

7. In the Queen's Silver Jubilee year, 1977, Britain's Virginia Wade beat the Netherlands' Betty Stove, to win the Wimbledon Ladies' Singles Championship for the first time, nine days before her 32nd birthday. The Queen attended for the first time in 25 years and presented Virginia, the last British woman to win at Wimbledon, with her trophy.


8. Wimbledon was spellbound in 1980, by the five-set thriller between Sweden's Bjorn Borg and a 21-year-old American called John McEnroe. Borg won his fifth successive Men's Singles title - and the following year, McEnroe would say the immortal line: "You cannot be serious."

9. In 1985, German Boris Becker became the youngest ever Wimbledon champion at the age of 17 when he defeated South African Kevin Curren on Centre Court.

Boris Becker


10. Wimbledon wouldn't be the same without rain delays. In 1996, Sir Cliff Richard gallantly alleviated the boredom by leading a sing-along on Centre Court, with Virginia Wade clapping along.

11. Talk about a vintage year - 1996 also saw a streaker run across Centre Court before the men's singles final between MaliVai Washington and Richard Krajicek.


12. The early Noughties were the years of Henmania, when 'Henman Hill' got its nickname, as fans cheered on the British No. 1 for his Centre Court appearances.


13. Roger Federer will no doubt go down in history as one of the greatest players ever, with a record 18 Grand Slam singles titles. 2012 marked his last of seven Wimbledon Men's Singles wins, but it was bittersweet, as he beat Andy Murray. There were tears from Andy, but the defeat spurred him on to win his first title the following year, becoming the first British man to win since Fred Perry.

14. Andy repeated the feat again last year, taking home the men's singles trophy for a second time.

Andy Murray

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